GV highlights religious diversity with Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration

By Carly Simpson | 11/24/14 12:41am


For the 15th year in a row, Grand Valley State University’s Kaufman Interfaith Institute is bringing together several religious and non-religious traditions for the Thanksgiving season.

This year’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.

The Interfaith Thanksgiving services in Grand Rapids, Mich. first became a citywide celebration in 2000. The idea behind it, however, started in 1987 when the Marywood Dominican Sisters, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox and Third Reformed Church began holding interfaith services.

Over the years, the number of participating churches increased and the celebration was officially established.

“The Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration is a time when many faith traditions come together to give thanks for our blessings and by doing it together, we also celebrate and give thanks for a community where all faith traditions are respected,” said Doug Kindschi, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute director, in a news release from GVNow.

According to the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, the event features participation from a variety of Christian denominations and representatives of Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, secular and inclusive religious communities.

Prayers, music, sacred writings, reflections and meditation from the different faiths are included in the service with a common theme of gratitude.

“This Thanksgiving celebration is an opportunity to gather the splendid diversity from around our city to tell stories, sing songs, reflect for a moment and share insights,” said Katie Gordon, Kaufman Interfaith Institute program manager, in a GVNow press release. “By this sharing, people can increase their gratitude for each other and for the various paths that bring us together.”

During this year’s Thanksgiving service, representatives from the Kaufman Interfaith Institute will also discuss the 2015 Year of Interfaith Service. The year of service will involve multiple congregations in West Michigan, various community organizations and student groups.

Participating organizations will help with community service activities throughout the Grand Rapids community, and will volunteer at places such as Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters in Grand Rapids, Goodwill Industries and Friends of Grand Rapids, among others.

Donations will be accepted for the Downtown Food Pantry and Habitat for Humanity during the Thanksgiving service. The pantry requests that people bring peanut butter and beef stew.

For more information about the Interfaith Thanksgiving celebration or the 2015 Year of Interfaith Service, contact Katie Gordon at (616) 331-5702 or gordonk1@gvsu.edu.

The Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 47 Jefferson Ave. SE in Grand Rapids.

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